A police complaint has been filed against nine people for allegedly abetting the suicide of a Dalit government officer in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur town. His body was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his residence on Thursday.
While four people have been arrested in connection with the case, the main suspect - identified as farmer leader Rakesh Chauhan - is still at large.
The victim, Trivendra Kumar, was employed as a village development officer in Lakhimpur Kheri district. A handwritten suicide note recovered from the scene claimed that he faced casteist slurs and humiliation from the main accused, who heads a local farmers' union, as well as village chieftans.
"His body was founding hanging at his residence, and we have recovered a suicide note. He has accused a few people. We have launched a probe," said Lakhimpur Kheri Assistant Superintendent of Police Shailendra Lal.
Police said they are also probing a video dating back to August that allegedly showed Mr Kumar being publicly humiliated by leaders of the farmers' union in Lakhmipur Kheri's Gola block. The official had gone to placate them during an agitation when he was forced to stand in front of the crowd while Rakesh Chauhan - who was addressing protesters at the time - subjected him to intense humiliation.
In the video, the authenticity of which is yet to be verified, the farmer leader could be heard questioning Mr Kumar's professional credibility and repeatedly targeting his caste. "Did you bribe somebody to get this job or have you come in through reservation? See, tehsildar sahab, this is the condition we are in. You tell the people that they can't hold a panchayat without permission, but your own officials are like this man here?" Rakesh Chauhan says in the clip.
The farmer leader then alleged that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had once called for inefficient government officials to be punished if they fail to fulfil their responsibilities.
"Shri Adityanath has said that kaamchor (lazy), nalayak, nakara and nikamma (all synonyms for worthless) officials who don't listen to the poor should be thrashed with shoes. It's not me but our Chief Minister who said this," he declares in the video, before going on to ask Mr Kumar: "Whose servant are you?"
The official says something in response, evoking laughter from the farmers.
The prestigious Nair Hospital in Mumbai had hit the headlines for similar reasons in May, when Dr Payal Salman Tadvi - a post-graduate medical student - committed suicide after being allegedly heckled by three senior doctors. A case was lodged against the accused under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act-1989.
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